My dad died in 2004, a fact I still have trouble coming to terms with sometimes. I miss him so much, particularly around the holidays. We occasionally wonder what life would have been like if he had lived; we might not even be in the Box House, who knows. My parents' plan was to retire somewhere warmer. But things happen, and now it's sometimes hard to remember a time when the three of us--me, Ted, my mom--weren't living in this drafty old two-flat.
Thinking of Dad and the holidays tonight leads me to thinking of his best friend, Jack, and some pictures I had wanted to post a few months ago after a visit to see him and his wife, Alba. We had spent nearly every Christmas Eve and Three Kings Day with Jack's family. I don't have a childhood holiday memory that doesn't include them. They're more like kinfolk than friends, and I had grown up thinking of their kids as my cousins. We haven't seen much of each other in recent years, unfortunately, but we've been working to remedy that.
Anyway, I was at Jack and Alba's house not long ago, right around the time they were cleaning out their century-old farmhouse of the stuff they had accumulated over the thirty years they had lived there, as well as items from previous owners that had been left in the basement.
And among the many treasures down there--including a set of Amelia Earhart bookends and a 1920s stove--was a homemade, Pepto-Bismo pink dollhouse. Jack asked me if I wanted to take it home with me. My heart almost stopped at the sight of it. It's a dollhouse that my dad had made when Alison, Jack's daughter, and I were kids--I think I was seven or so, she was four.
I hadn't even remembered that this dollhouse ever existed.
But when I saw it, it all came rushing back. I remember playing with that dollhouse for hours; I remember the texture of the carpet on the floors, the patterns on the wallpaper, and the furniture made by one of my great-great uncles. And I actually remembered my dad building the house.
Dad wasn't always the handiest of craftsman, I think it's okay to admit that, and I don't have anything that he built with his own two hands because there simply wasn't anything left over the years. So when I saw this dollhouse, I just teared up. My "Uncle" Jack had given me a gift more precious than he could have imagined -- a gift from my father, and a forgotten memory of him revealed.